Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) | Sam Riehn

Small Business Success Tips Podcast (episode 25)

Summary: Sam Riehn explains how to identify Air Force program managers who buy what you sell, how acquisition is changing, and how small businesses with cybersecurity capabilities can take advantage of exciting new opportunities.

Guest Bio |Acquisition Officer Sam Riehn, of the US Air Force's Cryptologic and Cyber Systems Division (CCSD) at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, helps cross functional teams (data scientists, software engineers, Air Force users) interact with business to procure and integrate cutting edge technology.

Over the last few years, he oversaw the largest portfolio of highly classified, offensive and defensive cyber weapon programs, including addressing the Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, and Quantum Computing needs of the Air Force. In 2017, he was tasked with implementing and integrating Agile DevOps and Risk Management Framework across the entire Air Force

Active in his local community and inspired by a family tradition of entrepreneurial ventures, Sam founded the San Antonio-based Startup Club, a local non-profit dedicated to helping San Antonio small businesses connect and grow. 

In this episode, Sam Riehn and Neil McDonnell discuss: 

  • why entrepreneurs should learn how to work with the government
  • various formal and informal research strategies to ‘connect the dots’ and find the best point of entry
  • why the best initial contact is usually a program manager who knows the requirements and the specific people and departments involved
  • how events hosted by the SBIR program (Small Business Innovation and Research) and CSO (Commercial Solutions Openings) are good opportunities to meet Air Force program managers and build relationships
  • open calls by SBIR program (small business innovation research) including Pitch Days with instant funding to engage businesses with cyber-related capabilities
  • how veterans and security-cleared professionals can connect directly with decision-makers at local career and hiring events
  • how the Air Force software acquisition process includes both outright purchases, as well as working with small businesses vendors who either license software or provide people to build software solutions in-house
  • the importance of best practices for managing awards; e.g. competent usage of the Wide Area Workflow system for electronic invoicing, receipt and acceptance
  • why the Air Force typically designates projects as ‘total small business’ instead of a specific socio-economic classification
  • how the lack of responses to RFPs designated as set-asides causes schedule delays for the acquisition and program office stakeholders

Referenced Links:

CONTACT | Sam Riehn


Neil McDonnell is an experienced small business owner and seasoned entrepreneur. An Army veteran and the founder HUBZone Chamber of Commerce, Neil is a government contracting subject expert and small business advocate for media and conferences.

His podcast series offers key information and tips to help small businesses gain insight into government agencies and large prime contractors and develop strategies to effectively present services. 

SPONSOR: Small Business Success Club



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